When young Olivia's father is kidnapped, she turns to Basil of Baker Street for help. Along with Dr. Dawson, they attempt to unravel the mystery behind the kidnapping, which quickly leads to a wicked plot devised by criminal mastermind Professor Ratigan.
Basil of Baker Street is a detective with an eye for details and a mind that can put the pieces together. Together with Dr. Dawson, the pair prove to be almost as effective a team as their human counterparts Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The pair meet for the first time in the beginning of this movie thanks to Olivia Flaversham, a young (mouse) girl whose father has just been kidnapped.
Typically, Basil would have treated Olivia's father's kidnapping as just another case, but it just so happens that his kidnapper was a bat with a peg-leg, and Basil knows that the peg-legged bat is a minion of his arch-nemesis Professor Ratigan. So there is a much more complicated scheme behind the kidnapping of Flaversham... Perhaps it has something to do with the fact he's a toymaker?
Yes, there is a scheme, because Professor Ratigan is brilliant at concocting evil schemes, just as Basil is brilliant at figuring them out. The two come head-to-head in what appears to be Ratigan's wildest scheme and Basil's biggest case.
The characters of Basil and Dr. Dawson originated from the children's book series Basil of Baker Street by Paul Galdone, and this Disney movie adaptation presents this one case in which the characters of Basil and Dawson are introduced to each other.
This movie was made during what many consider Disney's off-game period... It seems that they had gotten sick of fairytales and were trying out different things. So The Great Mouse Detective is something that people either love or forget. Personally, I think this movie accomplished some pretty cool stuff, and was an educational stepping stone toward future storytelling marvels like Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King. On its own it does have some charms, but not quite the Disney sparkle.
Basil of Baker Street, from the very first moment I laid eyes on him, comes off as severely crushable. I mean, I can't think of any other animated animal character who looks as dashingly handsome as he does. He's quirky, a little weird and a little arrogant, so he doesn't come off as an actual hero until later on in the movie. It also took him a while to treat Olivia as a person instead of a case. I like Basil.
Dr. Dawson is more like Dr. Watson than Basil is like Sherlock. Dawson gives us the eyes with which to observe Basil and the case, much like the role of Watson in the Sherlock stories. (I've never read the Basil books, so I wouldn't know how they're written, unfortunately). He's an awkward hero, not quite a sidekick but not quite a partner yet, even by the end of the movie. Maybe in the later cases he'll get his groove on.
The Flavershams are little charmers of their own. Olivia has the most adorable accent, and her father Hiram Flaversham sounds an awful lot like Scrooge McDuck. Oh wait, he *is* Scrooge McDuck.
But stealing the show? PROFESSOR RATIGAN. Ohhhhh Professor Ratigan. I've always been a tremendous fan of Vincent Price's voicework, and he delivers some absolutely brilliant stuff here. He steals every single scene that he's in, and no other villain does the evil chuckle quite like he does. It helps that he's animated so fluidly, giving him a tremendous number of expressions, some of which I recognise as being Vincent Price's own. I don't know who's a bigger show-stopping schmoozer, Ratigan or Hades.
If anything, this movie is a nice little tribute to Sherlock Holmes, even if it isn't really about Sherlock Holmes. The case itself is pretty simple and doesn't really require the type of intense detective work that Sherlock is known for but hey, I'm just giggly that they made Basil's address 221 1/2 Baker Street.
I like to think of The Great Mouse Detective as the perfect example of an era before political-correctness attacked the animation medium. Hey, in this movie there's very detailed smoking, drinking, dancing girls, and a mouse even gets eaten at one point. You wouldn't be able to get away with that sort of thing nowadays, I tell ya.